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The Woman in White

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  88,920 Ratings  ·  4,936 Reviews
The Woman in White is a Victorian melodrama concerning a mysterious woman in white who bears an uncanny resemblance to the fiancee of Lord Glyde, a sophisticated fortune hunter. First published as a serial between 1859 and 1860, this chronicle of evil, suspense, and villainy is believed to be the first English novel to deal with crime detection.
Paperback, 500 pages
Published 1993 by Wordsworth Classics (first published 1859)
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Marlena I'm guess Sir Percival managed to maintain his charm with Laura's father. He was pleasant when he came to visit before they were married, and he was a…moreI'm guess Sir Percival managed to maintain his charm with Laura's father. He was pleasant when he came to visit before they were married, and he was a Sir, which is a big deal, and he owned a large estate. I think no one knew but Anne's mother knew the father. I'm not sure the father even know - although he probably figured it out when the girls look like twins.(less)
Claire As per the chronology given in the Oxford world classics edition, the story begins in 1849 on into 1852.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Grace Tjan

Beware of spoilers!

What I learned from this book (in no particular order) :

1. Italians are excitable, dedicated to the opera, and most likely to be involved with organized crime.

2. Beware of fat, jolly Italian counts with submissive wives and fondness of white mice and canaries.

3. Watch out if your newly wed husband lives in a stately pile with an abandoned wing full of creepy Elizabethan furniture. If the said ancestral house is surrounded by dark ponds and eerie woods, expect the worst.

4. A Ba
...more
Jason
Feb 20, 2016 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: 'The Classics' group, Jan 10 book
Shelves: 5-stars
DON'T READ THIS BOOK, unless you've got the patience, stamina, and requisite taste for a quintessential mid-Victorian novel. If you don't, you'll think The Woman in White is terribly overwrought and 500 pages too long. If you like Victorian writing, you'll think this is a well-drawn, balanced novel with characters to root for, characters to despise, a twisting plot that rolls up seamlessly, and narrated ingeniously from multiple points of view. If you're unsure whether you like or dislike Victor ...more
Bill  Kerwin

The only real flaw in this densely plotted page-turner of a novel is that in the end it slightly disappoints because it promises more than it delivers. It makes the reader fall in love with its plain but resourceful heroine Marian Halcombe, and teases us with the delightful prospect that she will become the principal agent bringing the villains to justice. When, in the middle of the novel, Marian tells her half-sister Laura that "our endurance must end, and our resistance begin," it seems like a
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Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 03, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.”

 photo 980f83c6-7626-434b-b26f-ab174ef50668_zpssaxvxvoa.png

Walter Hartright, his name is a tip off regarding his character, is walking down the street, his mind absorbed with his own problems, when suddenly:

”In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop by the touch of a hand laid lightly and suddenly on my shoulder from behind me. I turned on the instant, with my fingers tightening round the handle of my stick. There, in the middle
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karen
this is a weighty relic of a book. it's pretty enjoyable, just don't expect any surprises, unless you have missed the last 20 years of police procedurals on the television set. i'm sure in its day it was chock full of surprises, but i have to shudder at the contrivance of characters talking aloud to themselves while unknown to them, people hide in cupboards or whatnot, overhearing exactly the information they are most desirous of. it does make me yearn for these times when it seems pulling a con ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
"I am thinking," he remarked quietly, "whether I shall add to the disorder in this room by scattering your brains about the fireplace."
Written in 1859-60 by William "Wilkie" Collins and originally published in serial form in Charles Dickens' magazine (Wilkie and Charles were good friends), The Woman in White is considered one of the earliest examples of detective fiction, though it's really just part of the book (the better part of the second half) that has any real detecting going on. Before th
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TJ
Oct 27, 2011 TJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This book is an amazing teaching tool. Not because it conveys any great lessons in life or exhibits profound understanding and insight but because it so clearly delineates the beauty and differences in 19th century writing and 21st century writing.

The story is definitely very gothic and one of the best mysteries available. It is in the length of the story - most especially the length of the writing that will probably cause many readers to balk. The descriptions, the conversations, the ideas... v
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Evgeny
Apr 01, 2016 Evgeny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
A group read with a bunch of Pantaloonless Buddies.

A young painter Walter Hartright unexpectedly received a good job offer. On his way home from his mother place he encountered a mysterious woman dressed in white walking alone who asked him for directions - in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere, mind you. The guy though that he would never see her again especially in his new place of employment where he taught a young woman painting. He fell in love with her - way beyond his so
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Henry Avila
Jul 18, 2015 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Walter Hartright, a struggling drawing teacher, is walking at midnight back to Victorian London, after visiting his widowed mother and sister, at their cottage, in the suburbs, to say goodbye, a quiet trip, nobody around, the road empty, everything's still, not even the leaves on the trees flicker, in the blackness, nothing, only his moving steps are heard, thinking about a lucrative job, in a faraway county of England, that he reluctantly took ( he has a bad feeling about), because his friend P ...more
Alex
I've never liked the term "butterface." I don't object to the objectification; I just don't like the sound of it. Nonetheless, it unavoidably popped into my head at my introduction from behind to Miss Halcombe, as Collins allows Hartright to ogle "the rare beauty of her form...[and] her waist, perfection to the eyes of a man, for it occupied its natural place...visibly and delightfully undeformed by stays*," before she turns and he's horrified by the revelation that "The lady is ugly!" (I.6)

Sinc
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Virginia
My friend Nora Ephron suggested i read this. Okay, I don't know her, but I feel like she'd be a friend. Therefore I honored her recommendations.

In her collection of essays "I Feel Bad about my Neck," she includes a bit about books that have completely transported her. She says it better than I do about this wonderful mystery:

"I open Wilkie Collins's masterpiece, The Woman in White, probably the first great work of mystery fiction ever written (although that description hardly does it justice),
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Arah-Lynda
Nov 12, 2012 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top, i-said
Originally published in a weekly periodical between late 1859 and 1860 as a serial story, this is believed to be the first English crime detection novel. This is Victorian fiction that combines romance, mystery and Gothic horror with a psychological twist.


The story opens with an eerie encounter, in the dead of night on a moonlit London road.


In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop… There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth…stood the figure of a solitary w
...more
Brad
Sometimes it is so damn hard to put your mindspace in the right place to enjoy a piece so far out of your frame, and this is definitely one of those books.

I knew a bit of what I might expect, after all, I did enjoy reading Drood and so I got a real hankering to read an actual extremely popular novel by such a wild character in a modern book about Wilkie and Charles. But that's neither here nor there. I probably wouldn't have ever picked this one up without it, though.

On to the novel at hand. It'
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Rachelle
Nov 20, 2008 Rachelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved, loved, LOVED this book. It's definitely in my top 5 for all time! I would love to hear from anyone else who has also read this. Not sure how I've missed knowing about it for so long - and I'm really gonna miss it!

Soooo, it's a 'classic' - written in the greatest time period ever (1850) and comparable to reading a really long Austen novel with a dark, suspenseful twist. Can you beat that?

I would recommend this to anyone who loves to read - savor and enjoy it!

Amy (shoutame)
Feb 19, 2016 Amy (shoutame) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I bought The Woman in White on the recommendation of my YouTube viewers, I had read The Moonstone by Collins last year and everyone suggested I pick this one up as it is his most known and praised book. I was not disappointed! The book is told through many different perspectives – we start with Walter Hartwright who at the beginning of the book comes across a woman completely dressed in white, she appears to be lost and a little distressed so Walter helps her on her way. Walter then overhears tw ...more
Jane
Mar 20, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, on-kindle
Where I got the book: public domain freebie on Kindle.

This is one of those novels I've been promising myself I'd read for years. I was expecting a really creepy ghost story, but what I got surprised me.

The plot: this is one of those Victorian novels told through a series of documents, with several narrators giving their accounts of the tale. Drawing teacher Walter Hartright has a nighttime encounter with a woman in white, and later learns that she has escaped from an asylum. By an amazing coinc
...more
Nandakishore Varma
Mar 19, 2016 Nandakishore Varma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is not a whodunit in the true sense - there is no nail-biting suspense and the big reveal at the end. But it is a very atmospheric mystery, eerie and engrossing. To be savoured slowly, like vintage single-malt.
Shan O
Jul 07, 2008 Shan O rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
I haven't quite finished Wilkie Collins' brilliant 19th century novel, "The Woman In White," but I had to go ahead and start my review to say that I am thrilled with it. I picked it up from the shelf because it was in the mystery section of my local bookstore, and I took it home because Collins had me on the first page.

Having its origination as a 19th century serial novel, "The Woman In White" is written in first person; in fact, it is actually a modified epistolary form from the perspective of
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helen the bookowl
3.5/5 stars.
This was a really amazing book that takes you on such a journey! I started it four days ago, and now - after having finished it - I feel like I've returned back home safely after having been gone for a long time. I don't know if that makes much sense, but that's how I feel :)
Now, this was my first book by Wilkie Collins and all I knew was that it was supposed to be a Victorian, scary read. It was in the beginning, and also slightly in the middle, but I was sad to realize towards th
...more
Carol
This Wilkie Collins classic, written in 1860, is a multi-layered mystery written with elaborately defined detail resulting in some pretty amazing and memorable characters. The beginning of the story really grabs your attention with the suspicious appearance, in the dead of night, of the mysterious Woman in White and keeps you anxious to find out the reason for her distress throughout the book.

This novel was not quite what I expected (view spoiler) and required dedicat

...more
Tony
May 29, 2015 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
Five of us get together every year around Christmas. In a tavern. We exchange pleasantries, and then, we take turns announcing our Top Ten Books of the year. Some explanation for each selection is expected. As here, why the book was special is better received (by me) than: What was the plot/Who were the characters/yagabbadagabbadagabbada....

About five years ago, Jim was half-way through his list when he announced, "My next book is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins." There were nods of the ap
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Lynette
Jul 15, 2013 Lynette rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
SPOILER ALERT because I'm sick of whiners leaving me comments.

Wow. This is supposed to be a classic mystery? The Woman in White was one of the most boring books I've ever read, and I've read a LOT of Victorian books. The plot is seriously that a woman marries a man she doesn't want to marry, and he stages her death to collect her fortune. YAWN. Am I supposed to be impressed that she followed through with her word to her father and married Sir Percival, even though she loved Walter? Nothing inter
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Shobhit Sharad
Nov 16, 2015 Shobhit Sharad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wilkie-collins
The first sentence of the book says it all.

"This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve."

This story is written in the sequence of witnesses stating their pieces of evidence to a judge or jury. The first POV is of an art teacher. It's written in a beautiful Victorian English, with dark elements as they were in the 19th century. The teacher, Mr. Walter Hartright, is a kind and loving gentleman, who wins over the heart of anyone he meets. The poo
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Duane
There was much to like about this novel. It's a wonderful 19th century English classic, it's a top-notch mystery, the writing is very good, and the characters were well developed and memorable. A small fault for me was the length. This story was told from the pov of several individuals, and I think a few of those were superfluous and redundant. Nevertheless, the flow was good enough to keep my interest and the pages turning. This is my first Wilkie Collins book and by most accounts his best. Whi ...more
Kim

Finishing this audiobook felt like an achievement. The book is long and complex and required concentration and commitment. But what a journey it has been!

As is the case with the only other of Wilkie Collins' novels I have read to date, The Moonstone, the book is structured as a number of separate narratives, each narrator telling their own part of the story in the first person. There is something about this way of telling a story that I find very appealing. Characters only tell what they know,
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MichelleCH
Ok. Amazing.

I must confess that initially I had thought that this would be a ghost story. The title is very mysterious and the cover made the woman in white appear ethereal. Generally I try to not read too much about a book before I begin. I like to just let it unfold as I read.

Anyway, despite my initial misconception, I loved this book. It had a great build-up, amazing characterizations, and the "just right" ending.

It is told in pieces from varying viewpoints which give it the flavor of indiv
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Alice Poon
Aug 14, 2015 Alice Poon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I'm giving this novel 3.5 stars. The story started out very promising, but then towards the last one-third, especially the denouement, it got a bit drawn out and trying on my patience.

Overall, the plot is very intricate and saturated with well thought out details and the characters are vividly drawn. The writing style can be somewhat cumbersome though, but not unusual of authors of that time period. I do like the sensitivity and compassion towards women that Collins displays throughout his writi
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Laura
If you want to read a real suspense novel, read this. This book has it all. What do you prefer? A page-turning plot? Got it. Beautiful writing? Check. Brilliant characterization? People who jump off the page into your living room? Villains who manage to have endearing qualities? A quality love story that is integral to the plot? Oh. Almost forgot. Outstanding audio performance? This book has you covered. Yes, it's a classic, but it's not clunky. It reads fast! Everything you want is right here, ...more
Jeanette
This is mood saturated and wordy. But also quite deep in character study. The Count being slimy as they get and yet tricked up with logical marketing ability (something that would never have been named in that time) coupled with the skills of a philosophical hypnotist.

It's certainly ahead of the curve for its era. But in today's plot crazy scenarios and duplicate or stolen identities world? Creepy goes deep into selfish and class proud eccentric here, if you enjoy that- go for it. At great leng
...more
Miriam
Apr 04, 2016 Miriam is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Buddy read with Erin, Stephany, Jeff, Evgeny, Tadiana, Kristin, Carmen
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A close friend of Charles Dickens' from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens' death in June 1870, William "Wilkie" Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens' bloomed. Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has received for fifty years. Most of ...more
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“My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.” 722 likes
“Any woman who is sure of her own wits, is a match, at any time, for a man who is not sure of his own temper.” 520 likes
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